Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Happy Easter Christos Anesti

Christos Anesti ("Χριστός ἀνέστη!" - "Christ is Risen!" in Greek)

As the villagers made their way to the church in response to the bells on Saturday night, the firecrackers went off around them. Undeterred they made it to the church door, but so full of people many stood outside as the liturgy was sung. All ages gathered at the church and some chose to stand alone and watch. Too many bangs to hear the service the Priest completed just before midnight as the fireworks went off illuminating the church from above and the Light of the world was spread out from the church.




 
 
As the Priest came out and said“Christos Anesti” (Christ is Risen) the Villagers replied: “Alithos Anesti” (Truly He is Risen) amid ringing bells and snapping fire-crackers.  Families and friends kissed one another and exchanged the Easter greeting .It was very moving.


 

People bearing candles lit from within  shared amongst each other , returned home lighting the way and spreading the news for another year. The ritual of smoking the cross over the front door must have happened all over the village. Small children carried Pom Pom lights, some had lanterns and some long tapered candles. Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Widows all shared in the experience and knew the ritual.




 

As I strolled up towards the centre, some men remained in the Kafenions drinking beer and coffee. I couldn’t help think that perhaps this ritual was maybe ‘same old, same old’ , but no. As we walked back past they were watching the event on the Big Screen from Athens away from the dynamite throwers. My ears were ringing from the bells and the explosions.



 

Last minute hair does were being created in the salons presumably for today’s celebrations and big family gatherings. The salon owner closest to the church was taping up his window to save it from the blasts and remonstrating with the offender. So woe betide that Easter Reveller if the glass isn’t intact this morning.

The liturgy continued for a long time after and the occasional crackle could be heard in the voices of the Priest.
"χρόνια πολλά

ps 4 windows broken to date
pps saved from the Magiritsa soup. Sorry as much as I like Greek cuisine didn't fancy lambs entrails.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Sounds of silence


Two weeks of walking around Kos as part of my fitness regime…..Whose Kidding? As quite rightly Missy puts up with us stopping for lunch, ice cream, picnics etc. You can’t help but notice the difference between the UK where I live and Kos. The quality of the light, sound and smells. It’s as if  Greece is crystal clear, each individual sound audible and recognisable, each aroma distinct and the visibility crisp .

I went for Easter but was not prepared for the Firecrackers and sticks of dynamite dropped here and there,nearly bursting my ear drums, quite thought I’d be left with tinnitus as they let them off in the street right in front of me cracking windows despite taping them. The bells could be heard resounding around the village as they called for prayer, marriage, baptisms and burials and the Liturgy so clear that any crack in a voice from chanting for so long couldn't be missed as it echoed round the village.

Not sure the cockerels know when first thing in the morning is as they crow and clack and the dogs bark, the cats screech and the donkeys bray like some kind of choir. The scooters squeal and the woman shout to each other never sure whether they are arguing or just passing the time of day. But the sound is clear and unmistakable.

The further out of the Village you go the street noise gets left behind and the sound of the countryside takes over. Bees hum as they take advantage of the wild flowers. Drive up the hairy road to Agios Ioannis (Not yet ready for the season)the sound of silence is broken only by the sound of waves on the shore line so far below.

 

Go up by the windfarm and the gentle whoosh of the arms as they rotate contrast with the bleat of the goats as they follow their mothers. Their bells chink as they clamber across the rocks foraging for food or follow the shepherds.


The sheep bah as they too follow the shepherds or shelter from the sun under the trees.


But in the castle of Antimachia silence. Peaceful , full of life, insects, lizards, butterflies and birds yet silent. Perhaps the Ancients like it that way, hints of ghosts watching and waiting, curious about their visitors must have thought us picnicking in the ruins a bit strange but it was worth it and we were silent.

 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

We're not with the 'In Crowd'



A warm February morning with white fluffy clouds floating across the Reedbeds ,the water of the  Salt lake gently laps the shingle sand banks with no more than a murmur. No sound of summer cicadas or quadbikes whizzing along the wide flat pathway. The clouds role by as if someone has puffed them out of Bubble pipe and let them go.


The few Flamingos that remain are far out in the centre of the lake still only knee high as they sift for food. Occasionally you hear them chattering to each other. A large caterpillar crawls in front of us as butterflies flutter across the wild yellow flowers. The flower heads all face the sun and follow its path as the day progresses. A few solitary bees take nectar from small delicate flowers that nestle on the bank. Behind us smaller  ponds are home   to ducks and ahead brightly coloured geese fly off as they see us coming.







Two awkward young Flamingos strut around on the path, occasionally wading out into the water long enough for us to pass and then walking back out behind us. These juveniles don’t appear to have their pink plumage, just pale grey underwings rather like baby seagulls. The grey rooks seem interested in them and close by an Eagle sits on the fence a large bird of prey that I wish I’d photographed. They don’t seem to be part of the ‘In Crowd’, but I’m not an expert in bird behaviour.


It’s such a tranquil place, not a soul in sight but clear in the distance the Greek Flag merges into the blues and soft ochres of the landscape, gently asserting this is our space, our Greek heritage.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Apokries


 


As dusk descends in sleepy Kefalos and the air is tainted by wood smoke and charcoal as if by magic they appear, drawn towards the centre of the old school. One by one ghouls creep out of the doorways, slip down alleyways, slowly and silently make their way back to the hub, the centre of all beginnings. Ghosts, spider men, geishas, frogs, Spanish dancers, boys dressed as girls, girls as boys as all manner of wierdness gathers as the light dims.

 

They are waiting for something just like the pied piper of Hamlin. Then they appear the Greek players with their Bazooki and fiddle and as they start to play their tune the children gather and more and more arrive. Arranged like a wedding party the Bride and Groom lead the children as they follow the musicians through the tiny streets and more people join the throng as they weave their way in and out of the back streets of Kefalos.

 


They are drawn by the sound and the smell of wood smoke towards the centre where the folks await. They follow a weird donkey like creature as it leads them towards the BBQ. Mini souvlaki are being prepared for the small children by men of the village.

 


They arrive to witness the marriage of the strange bride and groom by the child priest and dance the night away to celebrate the festival of Apokries......

 


The youngsters of the night dance to the mournful sound of the players and perform many traditional dances throughout the evening. A contrast of dark and light, shadows and bright as the young people make the most of fun, laughter and feast of meat before 40 days of lent.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Can you see me?



You can’t help but feel that the spirits over time on the Ancient ruins of Agios Stefanos have seen many things as the Basilica projects into the sea at the far end of Kamari Bay. Club Med is about to experience a new lease of life and even now at the end of the season tourists still swim out to the Island across the shallow stretch of water with a lone Pedallo floating on the sea. Wedding parties set sail to the small church, water sports delight tourists off the beach and local dog walkers seem to see this as a turning point on their jaunt along the sand.


It’s Ochi day and a group of people have decided to picnic under the tree and enjoy the view. As you walk round the edge of the ruin and glance down into the sea the Black Sea Urchins cling to the rocks and snails hug the dried barren vegetation. The mosaics reveal themselves in the sand and the pillars and stones gradually break down over time from the heat and rain.






As the tourists leave the site, the geckos scamper across the rocks to bask undisturbed in the sunshine. You’d be forgiven for not seeing them as their camouflage matches their surroundings so well and when they know you’ve spotted them they freeze as if their lack of movement makes them invisible. Move closer and they move too, get too close and they vanish as if like magic, into the crevices of the rocks and pillars. You can only imagine the picnic they’ll have when everyone has gone home for the season.
Can you see me?

and me?



Flamingos have the last laugh


In the warmth of the late October sun with the clear blue skies you can be forgiven for thinking it’s still Summer. But the absence of busy roads, sunbeds on the beach, hustle and bustle in the streets and a clear view across Eleftherias Square indicate the tourists have gone home and everyday life gets back to normal. The winding down after the Summer season has begun and Tavernas and shops are shutting up for the Winter.

The Greek equivalent of Costa and Nero have shot up yet the choice of coffee’s include Fredo Espresso and Frappe essential to the Greek way of life. Yet only Greek’s can do a coffee delivery service on their mopeds and young and old sit sipping coffee for hours under the bougainvillaea whilst smoking a cigarette and watching the world go by.


So on my way out of Kos town a detour to the Tigaki Salt Lake seems the perfect opportunity to see the Greater Flamingos. With no one around you soon realise another indication that October has arrived is the absence of sound, no cicadas the sound of silence is enormous. As we pull up to the lake side a flock of Jackdaws take to the skies cackling to each other as they fly off across the fields and rooks squabble in the trees.

Standing on the side of this shallow lake we are able to observe the Flamingos around the corner and decide to follow the path round to get a closer look. So just like David Attenborough we creep up silently  through the reed bed. We can hear them chatting to each other with that same laugh Ducks have when they are quacking about who knows what. They are so close and just as we peer round the grasses they spot us and take flight back to where we stood earlier. The salmon pink under wings are beautiful but they are too quick for us to capture on film.



We will try again next time and take our tripod to give us a better chance of capturing the spectacle. You can still hear them, laughing at our failed attempts, but they soon ignore us as they get back to feeding.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A life on the Ocean Waves.






If you get a chance take a boat and Island hop. Plenty of locals to take you on tours, individually or hop on a Ferry and seems to me Kefalos substituting for Kos town at the moment makes the trip further afield more accessible. So maybe Rhodes, Symi or Nisyros?


The three Island trip is a great experience and we went several years ago. Travel sickness tablets taken we set off from Kos town, the gentle swaying of the boat had no impact. Pserimos our first stop to swim or rather paddle as the shallow bay afforded swimming for the likes of me in need of arm bands. Strange experience as the Tavernas sit right on the beach , no roads and only open in the tourist season.
Pserimos everything on the beach.


Off to Kalymnos and the harbour of Vathis for an onboard BBQ lunch, a stroll and Sponge buying. Then for anyone who wanted to swim……not me,  to Plati. As we anchored up Ron dove off the side straight into the cool waters and swam towards the shore only coming up for air after some way. Boo and others jumped in and leisurely swam around the boat and towards the beach. I stood alone on deck. ’Why you no swim?’ they said accusingly. ‘I can’t ‘ said I. ‘no problem you have life jacket ‘and with that they threw me in. The trouble was I didn’t know what to do and somehow the buoyancy of the jacket turned me upside down and had me swimming round in circles like a beetle on its back spiralling gradually back towards the boat. Boo passed me, ignoring my endeavours and climbed back on board to get a life jacket and jumped back in swimming quickly back to shore. I continued to circle back towards the steps unhappy that my brave attempts had been overlooked.

A giant inflated rubber ring sailed over my head followed by a the Captain’s mate with calls for Oxigon. Still I edged nearer the boat. Finally ascending the ladder I was able to see the emergency in action. Ron was being rescued by Boo and Boo was being assisted by crew and once heaved on board Ron was given Oxygen. Out of practice, unfit and showing off had meant Ron made it to Plati but couldn’t get back. Needless to say he recovered, Boo was hailed as a Life Saver and nobody noticed my brave attempts. So after that I’ve only been out on the bigger boats where they won’t throw me off unless we are sinking, but maybe I should learn to swim.

Kalymnos



Just Ron and Boo